Vikings Recap, S4E17: The Great Army
Sorry I’m a little late- I’ve been very busy talking about other things and going to see a bunch of movies because Oscar season, bitch!
(On a brief aside- if you’re looking for something to see, I cannot recommend the new Scorsese movie Silence enough. If you like beautifully shot, sweeping historical epics with a focus on religion and faith, which you do if you like Vikings, you HAVE to see it)
If you can’t tell from the fact that I started this review by recommending another thing for you to watch, this episode…wasn’t great. Honestly, the reason I put this off for so long was that I didn’t have a lot to say about it that I didn’t say about the last episode– table-setting, interesting but unfulfilling, etc. I’ve read a lot of reviews, as I always do, and the general consensus seems to be that Vikings is spinning it wheels as it attempts to settle on a story in a post-Ragnar show.
And hey, I don’t think that interpretation is wrong. The show isn’t quite sure where it wants to go from here, and, like everything with Vikings, it’s taking it’s sweet time figuring that out. But vikings is one of those very, very few shows with characters so good that I really don’t mind if the story stalls out for a bit so we can just chill out with my favourite TV ensemble for forty minutes.
I mean, this episode did have it’s moments, too- some gorgeous cinematography rendered the outing at least memorable (ugh, the shot of Rollo returning to the French court was stunning), and i really think Ubbe took some strides forward here. He’s the oldest of the Baby Vikings cast, and he has some of his father’s cunning mixed up with the bitterness and bile that came from being abandoned by him and somewhat neglected by his mother. Lagertha comments that he looks just like Ragnar used to, and it’s a moment that feels prophetic. We also got to see Ivar and Floki interacting for the first time since the show’s return, and damn, was that a treat- it’s clear that Ivar has shreds of Ragnar meshed with the fanatacism and lack of concern for societal decency that Floki does, and seeing the two of them weird all over each other was fun. Unfortunately, though, the show seems a little too enamoured with Ivar- yes, Alex Hogh is awesome, but do we need to see him smile evilly directly down camera to make a point? A bit of restraint here would be nice, because it’s so easy to go overboard with evilness and turn it into irritating, unwanted camp (see also: Negan).
Speaking of the Lothbrok brothers, Bjorn also makes a return to Kattegat, and reminded me why Alexander Ludwig has always been one of my favourite parts of this show. It was always sort of written that he would step up to take the place of Ragnar-both as a character in the actual story and as a leading man within Vikings- and I find him just as fascinating as Travis Fimmel. He saw the way his father’s weakness led to his downfall, and he’ll be damned if he does the same- I can’t wait to see how the uneasy alliance between him and his brothers works out now they’re off to take down King Aela and Ecbert, as Bjorn for the first time steps up to head the clan. Oh, and he also gets off with his mother’s lover, which…I mean, okay, I guess?
I guess I’m missing Ragnar more than I thought judging by how much he’s come up in this review, but I swear, I think the show will survive without him. There are just a lot of moving parts to put into place before the show can jump into a new story headfirst- and, with Vikings, I can safely say that this kind of set-up is usually worth the wait.